From frosted cutout cookies, candy canes and gingerbread men to holiday fudge, fruitcake and more, the typical person will consume an extensive range of sweet treats throughout the holiday season. This is a season of merriment, spending time with friends at parties, and even baking treats with the family on the weekends. The last thing you want is to impede your enjoyment of the holidays by limiting your sugar intake, but the reality is that sugary treats can have a significant and damaging effect on your teeth. By learning more about how cavities develop, you may be able to adjust your oral hygiene habits throughout the season.
How Cavities Develop
Your mouth has a minimal amount of oral bacteria at all times, and this is normal. In most cases, the presence of this bacteria is kept in check through regular brushing and flossing as well as by your body’s own natural defences. However, this bacteria feeds on sugar. When you consume many sweet treats throughout the holiday season, the bacteria may multiply at a rate that is too fast for your natural defences to keep up with. Acids produced by the bacteria dissolve the teeth, causing cavities. Severe cavities can cause tooth pain, the need for potentially significant dental treatment, or even the loss of a tooth.
Your Natural Protection Against Cavities
Your body does have some natural defences against cavities, and this helps to keep the effects of bacteria in your mouth at a reasonable or manageable level. There are minerals and other nutrients in your saliva that help to rebuild the enamel that bacteria may have eroded away. However, this re-mineralization process for your enamel is not fully effective at protecting your teeth when you substantially increase your sugar intake during the holidays. There is simply more bacteria in your mouth than your body can naturally cope with.
Other Ways to Prevent Cavities
While saliva does its fair share to prevent cavities, the reality is that you also need to do your part to properly care for your teeth. It is recommended to brush twice per day and floss once per day. However, if you increase your intake of sugary or sweet foods, it is wise to brush more frequently. By doing so, you can remove more of the sugary elements from your mouth that may otherwise allow the enamel-eating bacteria to thrive.
The last thing you may want to worry about over the holidays is the possibility of cavities developing. Cavities can be painful, and they can lead to significant decay or tooth loss. In addition, it can be expensive to treat cavities. However, you can see that the development of cavities during this time of year is a very real possibility. Now that you understand how your increased consumption of sweet treats could play a major role in your risk of developing cavities, you can take additional steps throughout the season to better care for your oral health.